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Wednesday, 27 November 1935

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - I propose to refresh the minds of honorable senators concerning the objections of the Opposition to the words " or as to be likely to ". We have to consider the use that will probably be made of this law and the circumstances likely to be prevailing at the times when it is put in operation. They will not be times when every one in the community is calm and when a considered judgment is likely to be given by judicial authorities If these particular words are omitted, the position will be different. Under such circumstances, the tribunal charged with considering the matter will merely have to decide whether any book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper contains matter of such a nature as to do certain things. That will be a fairly definite issue upon which a tribunal can be expected to give a reasoned judgment. Now, it appears to me, in order to be quite certain of securing a conviction the Government proposes, in effect, to direct the judge to say to the jury, " You have not finally to decide whether such a publication is of a nature calculated to do certain things, but, if, in your opinion, such a publication might possibly lead to these things being done, you will find the defendant guilty". This is a sort of dragnet arrangement.

Senator Brennan - The jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt.

Senator COLLINGS - That would apply to the first part of the new subsection under which a jury would have to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the matter published was of a nature to do these things. Now, however, in order to make quite sure that the accused shall have less opportunity to escape, the jury is told that if it is of the opinion that such a matter, even by a stretch of the imagination, is likely to have certain effects, it should find the accused guilty. The Opposition had hoped that the Minister would see his way clear to withdraw these words.

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